A trip to the hospital can be nerve-wracking at any age, but for young children, it can be downright terrifying. It’s your responsibility as a parent to mentally and physically prepare your child for upcoming healthcare appointments to make the visits more comfortable for both of you.
Whether you’re visiting the hospital for your toddler’s 18-month immunizations or require an overnight stay due to surgery, it’s important to discuss the visit with your little one in advance. If your child is scared or tends to misbehave while at the doctor’s office then there are things you can do to make things less stressful for your little ones.
Talk About It
Some parents believe that if they don’t discuss the issue, they’ll spare their child some worry. Unfortunately, a surprise visit to the hospital can often make the situation much worse. Discuss the upcoming healthcare visit in a simple yet reassuring way one to two days before the actual visit.
Help them Relax
To help your child to relax before the appointment rolls around, tell him or her what to expect. You might want to role play “doctor’s office” with them or check a book on the subject out from the library. This can help to allay your child’s fears and anxieties so that when you walk through the door at the office, they will be prepared and not as nervous.
Children are very intuitive and can usually pick up on their parents’ feelings. You don’t want your child feeling apprehensive about his or her upcoming hospital visit due to your anxiety. Help your little one feel more relaxed by remaining calm and confident throughout the whole experience.
It is very common to have to spend some time in the waiting area of the office. Plan ahead and pack accordingly. For younger children, a security item such as a blanket, favorite stuffed toy or book can make them more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment.
Some offices have a play area for children, but not all children want to play there; you should be prepared with your own selection of goodies. For children who are a little older, consider items that will help keep them entertained and distracted, such as a handheld game or music player with headphones they can listen to while they wait to see the doctor.
Engage in Medical Play
Many parents find success in medical play. This involves providing your child with a toy doctor’s kit or some real medical equipment such as a medicine syringe that can be filled with water. Show your little one how each piece of equipment works to prepare him or her for the upcoming healthcare visit. Children can then practice on themselves or dolls.
Hospitals are generally safe, comfortable facilities. For small children, however, hospitals are full of uncertainties. Fortunately, you can help your child experience a stress-free visit to the doctors by preparing him or her beforehand. It can also be important to ask your doctor what to expect during your visit and how you can better ease your child’s worries.